Gallo Pinto Goodness

If you’ve been to Costa Rica, chances are you’ve had the beautiful combination of rice and beans that is gallo pinto. If you haven’t visited Costa Rica yet and you’re dying to have gallo pinto then you’re in luck, I’ve got the best recipe for you!

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Gallo pinto for breakfast is the best! Served with an egg or omelet and fruit, it makes for a very filling breakfast!

After my first month of living in Costa Rica, I quickly became obsessed with gallo pinto. It was so flavorful and it paired well with almost anything! It was like Christmas morning when I walked into the kitchen and saw we were having gallo pinto and eggs. Before I left my host mom gave me her recipe on how to make the best gallo pinto.

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Gallo pinto, pork, sweet plantains, and some bread! The most delicious meal around!

So without further ado, let’s get to cooking!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound of fresh or dried black beans
  • A handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (this is optional, my host mom doesn’t usually put it in, but she said it does taste wonderful with it!)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 cups of white rice
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1-3 tablespoons of oil to fry the gallo pinto

First, rinse off your beans and then add them to a pot with fresh water that goes above the beans by just about an inch, bring to a boil. Lower your heat and cook untill beans are soft, add some salt to the water.

While your beans cook, chop the cilantro, bell peppers, and onion very fine.

In a separate pan, add a tablespoon of oil and sauté the rice for a couple of minutes over medium heat. Add your cilantro, bell peppers, onion, and sauté for another two minutes. Next, add water and bring to a boil. Once your water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer until the rice is tender. This could take you 20 to 30 minutes.

You’re almost done! Add your beans to your rice mixture. The black water from the beans will give the gallo pinto its signature dark tint. Finally, saute the rice mixture and beans in vegetable oil for a few minutes.

Listo! (ready!)

One of my favorite things to do is put a little bit of salsa Lizano on my gallo pinto. This sauce is pure gold and really gives gallo pinto a little kick!

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Gallo pinto, cole slaw, grilled chicken, avocado, and plantains is the perfect dinner after a long day of exploring!


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To add a Caribbean twist to gallo pinto, the people of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica add coconut milk!


Even though you have to go to Costa Rica to try the real deal, I highly recommend making some gallo pinto of your own to share with family and friends…or to keep all for yourself ;)

Kendall McKee is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO in San Jose, Costa Rica. She is currently a Junior at the University of Memphis. 

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